Event

Book Launch: The Calling of History by Dipesh Chakrabarty

When
Wednesday 15 July 2015
5.30 - 7.00pm

This event has passed

Venue

Sutherland Room, Holme Building, Science Road

Map


Dipesh Chakrabarty launches his book The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth

The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth

A leading scholar in early twentieth-century India, Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1870–1958) was knighted in 1929 and became the first Indian historian to gain honorary membership in the American Historical Association. By the end of his lifetime, however, he had been marginalised by the Indian history establishment, as postcolonial historians embraced alternative approaches in the name of democracy and anti-colonialism.

The Calling of History examines Sarkar’s career—and poignant obsolescence—as a way into larger questions about the discipline of history and its public life. Through close readings of more than twelve hundred letters to and from Sarkar along with other archival documents, Dipesh Chakrabarty demonstrates that historians in colonial India formulated the basic concepts and practices of the field via vigorous—and at times bitter and hurtful—debates in the public sphere.

He furthermore shows that because of its non-technical nature, the discipline as a whole remains susceptible to pressure from both the public and the academy even today. Methodological debates and the changing reputations of scholars like Sarkar, he argues, must therefore be understood within the specific contexts in which particular histories are written. Insightful and with far-reaching implications for all historians, The Calling of History offers a valuable look at the double life of history and how tensions between its public and private sides played out in a major scholar’s career.

Dipesh Chakrabarty holds a BSc (physics honors) degree from Presidency College, University of Calcutta, a postgraduate Diploma in management (considered equivalent to MBA) from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and a PhD in history from the Australian National University. He is currently the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor in History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the College, University of Chicago. He is also a faculty fellow of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory and an associate faculty of the Department of English. He is a founding member of the editorial collective of Subaltern Studies, a consulting editor of Critical Inquiry, a founding editor of Postcolonial Studies, and has served on the editorial boards of the American Historical Review and Public Culture. He was one of the founding editors, with Sheldon Pollock from Columbia University and Sanjay Subrahmanyam from UCLA, of the series, South Asia Across the Disciplines, published by a consortium of three university presses (Chicago, Columbia, and California). He also serves on the Board of Experts for non-Western art for the Humboldt Forum in Berlin and has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Board to the Center for Global Cooperation Research (Bonn and Essen) since 2012. He was elected an honorary fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2006 and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.